Paperboy Cast Announced in Belfast

Paperboy-Play-Cast-14_Lewis

Youth Music Theatre UK (YMT) the leading music theatre company for young people, announces the cast for their brand-new musical adaptation of Tony Macaulay’s Paperboy, to be performed at Lyric Theatre Belfast 26-29 July. The cast includes 35 talented performers aged 11-19 years, including 19 aspiring performers from the Island of Ireland, 9 from Scotland and 7 from England.

Paperboy-Play-Cast-10_Lewis

Paperboy is produced and commissioned by Youth Music Theatre UK (YMT) and presented in association with Lyric Theatre Belfast and commissioned with funding from Arts Council Northern Ireland.

Adapted from Tony Macaulay’s internationally acclaimed memoir, Paperboy tells the story of Tony, a 12-year-old boy, growing up against the gritty backdrop of 1970s Belfast. Creative duo, writer-comedian Andrew Doyle and Belfast singer-songwriter Duke Special, have captured in the making of the musical a vivid tapestry of Belfast and Tony’s world – one full of Rock Music, Doctor Who and youthful energy – recreating the vibrancy, comic timing and sense of discovery that is so enjoyed in the memoir. Directors Steven Dexter and Dean Johnson have been working closely with the cast to develop a feel for the era.

Paperboy-Play-Cast-7_Lewis (1)

Rehearsals began on the 9th July and the production will come together in just three weeks. Young people were selected by Youth Music Theatre UK from their national auditions tour earlier this year, where over 1,000 young people auditioned across the UK and Ireland to join the company. Special auditions were held on Shankill Road to draw in young people from the local area where the book is set. Auditions were also held on the Falls Road.

Young Tony (Paperboy) and his girlfriend Sharon are to be played by Sam Gibson from Killinchy, Co. Down and Erin Ryder from Laghey, Co. Donegal.

Paperboy-Play-Cast-2_Lewis

Author of paperboy, Tony Macaulay said:

“I’m excited to see Paperboy on stage at the Lyric. I can’t wait to see and hear how Duke Special and Andrew Doyle have adapted the book into a musical. I expect I’ll feel quite emotional the first time I see the talented cast of young people performing my story on stage.”

Jon Bromwich, Executive Producer Youth Music Theatre UK, added:

 “Youth Music Theatre UK has trained and nurtured over 8000 up-and-coming young performers, musicians and creatives, and produced over 80 new musical works of the highest quality. Our prestigious alumni includes Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. Sam took part in our 2007 production in Belfast. This year we are delighted to present the extraordinary new musical production of Tony Macaulay’s Paperboy, from a top-flight creative team, as part of our 15th anniversary season.”

Paperboy-Play-Cast-5_Lewis

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

The Arts Council is delighted to support this production of Paperboy  at the Lyric Theatre through National Lottery funding.  It is vitally important that young people here are given opportunities to broaden their creative experiences and, to perform on the stage of the Lyric Theatre will be an experience that stays with them throughout their lives.  Youth Music Theatre UK has assembled an impressive creative team and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy.”

The YMT Company of 2018 is made up of 300 talented young performers and musicians. YMT offers young people the opportunity to work with exciting composers, established directors and innovative movement specialists, developing the music theatre of the future. YMT’s aim is the personal and creative development of young people through the creation and performance of music theatre. Paperboy continues Youth Music Theatre UK and Lyric Theatre Belfast’s successful partnership.

For booking details visit Lyric Theatre Belfast Ticket Booking Link: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk/event/paperboy  and for details on Youth Music Theatre UK: http://www.youthmusictheatreuk.org

Paperboy – The Musical!

musical promo

Pictured from left are Peter Wilson aka Duke Special, Will McKee Campbell College, past Participant in the production, Tony Macaulay, author of Paper Boy and Jon Bromwich, Executive Producer. Picture by Brian Morrison.

Youth Music Theatre UK (YMT), the leading UK music theatre company for young people, that has helped shape the careers of many, including Brit Award winner Ed Sheeran and Grammy Award nominee Sam Smith, is producing a brand-new musical adaptation of Tony Macaulay’s Paperboy.

Renowned director Steven Dexter, along with co-director Dean Johnson and choreographer Jennifer Rooney, who both hail from Northern Ireland, will be joined by Belfast-born, platinum-selling singer songwriter Duke Special and Derry born stand-up comedian Andrew Doyle to bring Tony Macaulay’s much-loved memoir to life. Following YMT’s hugely successful 2017 musical adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels, this rich creative team will come back together again at Lyric Theatre Belfast, continuing Youth Music Theatre UK and Lyric Theatre Belfast’s successful partnership.

The wide popularity of Tony Macaulay’s Paperboy has led to its success across the world; the book has been published in the UK and Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

Platinum-selling, singer-songwriter Duke Special (Songs from the Deep) has composed music for a huge variety of projects including Deborah Warner’s critically acclaimed Mother Courage and her Children (Brecht) at The National Theatre, and a series of commissioned songs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, and for YMT Gulliver’s Travels.

Tony Duke Pammy

Youth Music Theatre UK’s Executive Producer, Jon Bromwich, said “Paperboy is a flagship show of Youth Music Theatre UK’s 2018 summer season, and it’s also our 15th anniversary season, so a very special one. ”

The production will be performed at the Lyric Theatre Belfast from 26-29 July 2018. Tickets are available here. 

 

 

 

 

Stories From Uganda: From the trauma of the 1970s to a better future for the children of Uganda

Bernard Masaba (54) is the Outreach Co-ordinator with Fields of Life, based at the headquarters in Kampala, Uganda. Bernard and I are the same age. He was one of eight children born to his parents, William and Susan.  When I was a child in West Belfast, Bernard was a boy in Mbale in Eastern Uganda. We both grew up during a turbulent time in the history of our countries. But Bernard’s story as a child during the time of Idi Amin puts many of the stories of Northern Ireland into perspective.

When I met Bernard in Kampala he shared his memories of the political turmoil, economic disintegration and insecurity in Amin’s Uganda in the 1970s. This had a huge impact on ordinary people’s lives. ‘We didn’t have anything in those years’, he told me, ‘There was no bread or sugar or soap.’

When I was getting my first job as a paperboy in Belfast, Bernard was facing much more danger in an effort to survive. In an attempt to find a source of income, as a boy he became involved in coffee smuggling. From Monday to Thursday he went to school, but on Fridays he carried 20 kg of coffee on his head on a dangerous trek through the mountains and across the border from Uganda into Kenya. The main danger was to be caught by Amin’s soldiers. They caught and killed some of Bernard’s friends. If the soldiers were on their track the children had to escape through the forests. Bernard told me about the time when he almost died after fleeing into the forest to escape from Amin’s army who were killing the smugglers they caught.

‘I walked through the forest for four days and four nights,’ he recalled. ‘In the end I couldn’t walk any more. I thought I was going to die. But then a stronger guy came along and carried me and my coffee and he saved my life. I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive. It was a tough life.’

But Bernard did survive. He completed his education and went to teacher training college and he has spent his life teaching and promoting education in Uganda.

Bernard married Miriam and they had six sons together. Sadly, Miriam died in 2012 and Bernard has had to continue to raise and educate his children on his own. It’s an indication of Bernard’s resilience that his eldest son has now graduated as a teacher, another son is a business graduate and another is studying as an engineer. His other three sons are still at school and the cost of raising them alone and paying school fees has not been easy. However, Bernard explained to me that once he has covered the costs of his own children he now supports the education of other children. He told me that he was inspired to do this by people in Northern Ireland who raise money to support children in Uganda. He said, ‘It’s so encouraging to see children’s lives transformed, from having their own shoes to having an education, thanks to the donors to Fields of Life.’

Stories From Uganda: A Dedicated Teacher

Beatrice Kebirungi (58) has been a teacher at Ryamugwizi Primary School in rural South West Uganda since the earliest days of the school. For twenty five years, her dedication to the children in the school and her commitment to the people of her local community have never wavered. This is another inspiring story from Uganda.

39558337870_818e97989a_o

Beatrice qualified as a Grade 3 teacher in 1993 and has been teaching ever since. When Ryamugwizi Primary School was first opened by the church it was a private school with no government funding. Beatrice told me that she often worked without pay in those early years. Eventually in 2004 the government began to support the school with some teacher salaries.

41366425211_9ea97616a4_o

As the school continued to grow, in 2007 the government provided some further support with a small building of classrooms and salaries for more teachers. In the same year Beatrice decided to go back to study to qualify as an Upper Grade teacher.

Beatrice explained how the school really began to develop and grow when the  REAP Project and Fields of Life began to support it in 2014. This included the construction of ‘a wonderful building’ with new classrooms, pit latrines, a kitchen and a rain water harvesting system.

27494860438_a536e83fb8_o

Today the school continues to grow and develop. Beatrice smiles when she says, ‘Now we have classrooms and I get a salary!’

This year the REAP Project added a staff accommodation block for teachers to live on site, to increase their time spent at school and to attract the best teachers.

40652469954_df32a654b3_o

41366444811_40b7664a06_o

I asked Beatrice about all the changes she has been through in the school in the last twenty years. She replied, ‘The school enrolment is increasing, we have water, we are attracting very good teachers and academic performance in improving. I am proud of our pupils. Some of our past pupils are doing very well.’

39558336770_20a9f1061a_oBeatrice is married and has five children. Since she began receiving a government salary she has been investing her income in her family and in the local community.

‘I’ve had to look after my five children and their education,’ she said (two of her children are now at university), ‘and I’ve built a small home and managed to buy some land to develop projects.’

Beatrice has developed two hectares of land with coffee and banana plantations. She has built a house for commercial rental and premises for her son to operate a retail business. I asked her why she was investing in this way. ‘It’s for the future of my children,’ she said, ‘I have future plans for four hectares of land and I would love to rear cattle.’

I found it inspiring to hear that after years of not being guaranteed a teacher’s salary, when Beatrice began to earn a regular income, she looked outward, with an entrepreneurial spirit and invested in development projects in her local community.

On the day Beatrice welcomed the REAP Project team into her home I asked about her hopes for the future of the school. She did not hesitate to reply.

‘I want us to continue to improve the standards, to start a boarding section for children who live further away, as this will enable children to study for longer and improve their academic performance. A boarding section will also bring income into the school to help subsidise the children from lower income families.’

img_6590

‘I come from here,’ said Beatrice, ‘and I want to be a role model for the children, especially the girls. I tell them stories of how I have persisted to stay with them. I want to inspire them to be like me and more.’

I have no doubt that Beatrice Kebirungi will continue to teach and inspire the children at Ryamugwizi Primary School for many years to come.

Stories from Uganda: A Leader with Vision

This is the story of Rev Robert Mugume, a leader with a vision to transform lives and his local community.

Robert (50) is the Regional Bishop for Ibanda with the Full Gospel Churches of Uganda, a pentecostal denomination. He grew up in the village of Birongo III in Ishongororo and married Mrs Jolly Nabasa Mugame. They have five children and two adopted children. He began serving as a pastor in 2001. While Robert was studying Theology at Glad Tidings Bible College he was inspired to work for the development of children. He developed a vision to start a school in his local community where children could have a quality education. He says his vision is to raise children holistically by supporting their physical, spiritual and educational development. In 2005 his vision became a reality when he started Birongo Primary School with 120 pupils. He connected with Fields of Life to assist with the construction of the school and today the school has grown to 530 pupils. As the partnership with donors from Northern Ireland continued a new vision developed to start a school in Ryamugwizi. This vision also became a reality.

Ryamugwizi Primary School is the school supported by the REAP Project that I’m visiting this week. It now has 310 pupils.

In partnership with Fields of Life and donors from Northern Ireland Robert has also established two primary schools in the neighbouring district of Kiruhura; Ulster Farmers & El Shaddai. Projects have been supported to drill boreholes and protect natural wells in the school communities (see yesterday’s blog) to ensure the community has clean water so that children remain healthy to attend school.

‘As a leader,’ says the Bishop, ‘I feel proud and thankful for the partners and donors from Northern Ireland.’

In the Birongo school they have built dormitories for children to enhance their access to education. Fields of Life has also gifted livestock and sewing machines to parents to enable them to generate income so that they can earn money to pay for their children’s education themselves.

‘I’m seeing the vision I had in 2001 now become a reality’, says Robert, ‘Lives and communities are being transformed.’

When I ask Robert how it feels to see his vision become a reality he smiles and says, ‘I thank God. I’ve seen transformation in the lives of the orphans and vulnerable children we are supporting.’

Robert is delighted to see children from the schools now becoming teachers, nurses and students at university.

Of course visionary leaders like Robert Mugume do not stop when one vision becomes a reality, so I ask him about his latest vision for the future. He does not hesitate to respond. He wants to see the children from the schools become successful in life. He wants them to aspire to be doctors, engineers, lawyers and bishops.

He has a vision for a secondary school in the region with the same ethos. He also wants to establish a vocational school for young people who cannot go to university so that they can gain practical skills for work. In addition Robert wants to establish income generating projects, such as businesses and farming, so that each school will raise funds to sustain itself and Robert’s vision will be secured for the future.

I have no doubt that this determined leader will see his vision sustained. Once again on my visit to Uganda I am inspired by hearing the story of a visionary leader creating hope and transformation in his local community.

Stories from Uganda: A young leader with a dream for a better future

I’m visiting Uganda with the REAP Project, a team of brilliant volunteers from Northern Ireland who have returned to Ryamugwizi Primary School in Ibanda, to continue to support the growth and development of the school and the local community. I’m blogging live from Uganda every day, sharing the stories of some of the most interesting and inspiring people I meet.

Today I want to share the story of another inspiring young leader – Caleb Malwadde, who works for Fields of Life.

Caleb was born the youngest of sixteen children in Central Uganda after the end of the Liberation War in 1986, when the current government came to power. His family had suffered hardship during the war in the Luwero Triangle and had lost their home, garden and cattle. As a result the family were very poor and felt like they were refugees in their own country. Caleb’s parents could not afford to send him to school. But then one day at the age of eight, Caleb was wandering around his village when Trevor Stevenson, the founder of Fields of Life, happened to be visiting with a colleague. Trevor noticed Caleb walking around and asked the boy why he was not at school. He asked if he could speak with Caleb’s parents. Then Trevor went to meet Caleb’s mother and promised her that he would find a sponsor for Caleb to go to school. In 1997 Caleb became a pupil at the First Fields of Life School in Uganda. He recalls starting school in P3 and getting shoes, a mattress, blankets and free meals. He speaks warmly about the transformation in his life due to the values and spiritual growth he experienced as he went through his education in the Fields of Life Academy, then Grace High School and ultimately to university, the first child from his family to do so.

When he graduated from university Caleb went to work for Fields of Life as the charity’s Logistics and Procurement Officer in Uganda.

He says, ‘I’m happy I’m working for the organisation that nurtured me and I am part of a team that is changing people’s lives.’

Like myself, Caleb has been inspired by the life and writings of Martin Luther King, so I asked him if he has a dream for Uganda.

He says, ‘My dream for Uganda is for respect for human rights and everyone enjoying the basic facilities of human life.’

Caleb believes this requires a change in mindsets and a type of politics where the government puts the people first. A type of democracy where political leaders want to give back to the community. The result of this would be a political commitment to massive improvements including clean water, food, free education and healthcare for all.

With young leaders like Caleb emerging in Uganda I believe his dream can begin to become a reality.

Belfast author to blog Stories from Uganda

This Easter bestselling Belfast author, Tony Macaulay will join a team of volunteers from Northern Ireland who are returning to Ryamugwizi Primary School, in Ibanda, Uganda, to continue to support the growth and development of the school and the local community.

photo-19-04-2014-10-38-35

Tony will be blogging live from Uganda, sharing the stories of the people he meets every day. The daily blogs can be found here.

img_5083

The REAP Project – Realise East African Potential

The REAP Project is committed to bringing about positive change through the provision of quality education, clean waterhealth promotion and other community based projects, by collaborating with Ryamugwizi Primary School and the surrounding community in Ibanda, Uganda.

REAP is working in association with the charity Fields of Life, who have been involved in projects with local communities and churches in a number of countries in East Africa such as Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

double-logo

Belfast ‘Paperboy’ in the USA

14463020_335821103432334_2523483795590189450_n

Belfast author, Tony Macaulay is returning to the USA this month for a series of talks and readings from his bestselling memoirs, ‘Paperboy’, Breadboy’ and ‘All Growed Up’.

The book tour schedule is as follows:

Wed 12th October 2016: Goshen College, Indiana

13th October 2016 : Book Reading in Notre Dame Bookstore, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana

14-16th October 2016 : Guest Author at Chicago IBAM (Irish Books, Art & Music), Chicago

Sun 16th October 2016 : Ellis Avenue Church, Chicago

Tony says:

‘I’ve been surprised and delighted by the interest in my books in the USA. I have found there to be a particular interest in colleges and universities in the USA because of my experiences as a peace builder. Also, my voice as a writer from a working class Ulster Protestant background appears to spark curiosity among many readers in the Irish American community in particular.’

Belfast author shares his stories with international students in Germany

AGU Launch

This weekend Belfast writer Tony Macaulay will be the guest speaker at a workshop for international students in Germany. The author of a series of bestselling memoirs of growing up in Belfast during the Troubles, will read from his books and discuss the role of storytelling in peacebuilding.

Tony will talk about his experiences as a writer and peacebuilder from Northern Ireland and support the students from around the world to consider storytelling as a tool of reconciliation in their home countries.

The workshop entitled ‘Stories in History and Culture’ is being organised by the STUBE Project of the Diakonie Mitteldeutschland in Halle, Germany. The Stube Project offers students from Africa, Asia and Latin America, who are studying in Germany, weekend seminars, workshops, field trips, summer schools, workshops and evening events on development-related topics and intercultural studies.

Tony says, ‘I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at this workshop on storytelling and peacebuilding. I’m really looking forward to visiting Halle and meeting the students from Africa, Asia and Latin America. I’m excited to support the students to write their own unique stories that can contribute to building peace in their home countries.’